It is argued in this paper that Roma and Sinti memories of the genocide during the Second World War did not form a coherent picture of the past that would be widely shared among them. Therefore, the recent spread of memorialization and commemoration of the genocide of Roma and Sinti shall be interpreted as a process of the social construction of trauma in which memory increasingly becomes a marker of identity, not just the recollection of the past. The article presents the consequences of the genocide of Roma and Sinti for their post-war situation and the emergence of the memory of the genocide within their political movement, both on the local and transnational levels. Drawing on Jeffrey Alexander’s social theory of trauma, I argue that Roma and Sinti do remember the Nazi persecution, that these memories are fragmented and incoherent largely because of the nature of the crimes committed on them by National Socialism, and that their self-definition as victims of genocide is a social construction embedded in their struggle for empowerment.
S:I.M.O.N. is an e-journal of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI). It appears twice a year in English and German language. S:I.M.O.N. aims at both a transnational and comparative history of the Holocaust and Jewish Studies in Central and Eastern Europe within the broader contexts of the European history of the 20th and 21st century, including its prehistory, consequences and legacies as well as the history of memory.
S:I.M.O.N. serves as a forum for discussion of various methodological approaches. The journal especially wishes to strengthen the exchange between researchers from different scientific communities and to integrate both the Jewish history and the history of the Holocaust into the different “national” narratives. It also lays a special emphasis on memory studies and the analysis of politics of memory. S:I.M.O.N. uses a double-blind review system, which means that both the reviewer’s and the author’s identities are concealed from each other hroughout the review process.
Shoah: The journal deals with the history of the Shoah from multidisciplinary, transnational and comparative perspectives. It seeks to integrate studies on Jews as well as on other groups of victims of the Holocaust, especially on Roma, and of so far less researched regions of (East) Central and (South) Eastern Europe.
Intervention. The journal reports on research projects and their transmission into public events. It also informs about current educational and remembrance programs.
Methods. The journal serves as a forum for the discussion of methodological approaches as, for instance, the everyday history, oral history, gender history, the history of violence, anti-Semitism and racism and the theory of memory and memory politics.
DocumentatiON. The journal contributes to critical approaches on using and interpreting archival materials in the 21st century.
Download the current issue S:I.M.O.N. 2016/2.
My research – through a history of the Budapest building managers (in Hungarian házmester) – asks to what degree agency mattered amongst a group of ordinary Hungarians who are commonly perceived as bystanders to the Holocaust. I analyse the building managers’ wartime actions in light of their decades-long struggle for a higher salary, social appreciation and their aspiration to authority. Instead of focusing on solely the usual pre-war antisemitism, I take into consideration other factors from the interwar period, such as in this paper the tipping culture. In my PhD thesis, I claimed that the empowerment of the building managers happened as a side-effect of anti-Jewish legislation. Thanks to their social networks and key positions, these people became intermediaries between the authorities and Jewish Hungarian citizens, which gave them much wider latitude than other so-called bystanders. That is to say that an average Budapest building manager could bridge the structural holes between the ghettoised Jewish Hungarians and other elements of 1944 Hungarian society as a result of his or her social network. This article argues that the actions of so-called bystanders in general, and the relationship between Budapest building managers and Jewish Hungarians in particular, can only be understood by placing them in a longue durée. Furthermore, it suggests that it is impossible – and unhelpful – to allocate building managers to a single category such as ‘bystander’. Individual building managers both helped and hindered Jewish Hungarians, depending on circumstances, pre-existing relationships, and the particular point in time.
Until the end of 2007, the International Tracing Service (ITS) was the largest collection of inaccessible records anywhere in the world that shed light on the fates of people from across Europe – Jews as well as members of virtually every other nation or nationality – who were arrested, deported, sent to concentration camps, and even murdered by the Nazis; who were put to forced labour, calculated in many places to result in death; and who were displaced from their homes and families, and unable to return home at the war’s end. These were documents that Allied forces collected as they liberated camps and forced labour sites across Europe in the last months of the war and during their post-war occupation and administration of Germany and Austria.
The archives of the ITS in Bad Arolsen, Germany, contains over fifty million documents produced in the Second World War era relating to the fates and destinies of over 17.5 million people. Using samples and case studies, the author, who led the campaign to open the archives, provides a view of the effort to open the collections for research and discuss the importance of this recent event for Holocaust survivors, victims of National Socialism, and scholars.
During the clerical-fascist Slovak State, "Tóno" Brtko, a docile and poor carpenter, is offered the possibility to 'aryanise' the small Main Street sewing accessories shop of Rozália Lautmannová. Torn between his good-natured principles and his greedy wife Evelyna, he finally agrees to take over the shop by making the deaf and senile lady believe he is her nephew arriving to help her out. Yet he then discovers that the business is bankrupt, and Ms. Lautmannová is only relying on donations from the Jewish community. While letting his wife believe he is making money from the shop, he gradually becomes a supporter of the old lady. More and more, a cordial relationship between the two evolves. When the Slovak authorities finally decide to deport the Jewish population of the small town, Tóno, in a deep conflict with himself and his values, finally opts for hiding Ms. Lautmannová – a decision which turns into tragedy. Obchod na korze won the 'Oscar' for Best Foreign Language Film in 1966. The film was presented on the occasion of a VWI-Visuals presentation on 29 January 2015 in Vienna's Admiralkino.
Sławomir Kapralski: The Genocide of Roma and Sinti and Their Political Movement from the Perspective of Social Trauma Theory